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Bullpen Report: Finding a little relief

Senior Fantasy Writer
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I've moved enough in the past decade to know that it stinks. The packing, lifting, unpacking -- there's no real fun element to it. But there is one thing I look forward to every time: opening up the box of "Miscellany." For me, it's usually things like playing cards, some old CDs, stickers featuring DC superheroes, maybe some type of Star Wars thing I won on ebay, and a bunch of other random fun stuff that I don't really need to own, but enjoy.

So in the spirit of the Miscellany box, I give you this week's Bullpen Report. Just a bunch of stuff thrown into a box that doean't fall into any specific category.

Rex Brothers is a must-add

With Rafael Betancourt likely done for the season, Rex Brothers will re-assume closing duties in Colorado. The 25-year-old lefty has a 1.51 ERA and 1.16 WHIP on the season, with 11 saves and a 9.4 K/9. Brothers won't have the kind of "run him up the rankings!" ascent that Kenley Jansen got when he was named closer, but the upside is very real -- Brothers can keep his ERA and WHIP low while racking up saves and getting about a strikeout per inning.

Tommy Hunter is closing in on relevance

We've seen this before -- an incumbent closer trips up a little bit, rights himself in the 7th and 8th innings, then returns and is dominant for the rest of the season. The best example I can think of is Brandon League in 2011. Currently, we're looking at something similar from Jim Johnson, just much later in the season (League would always run into trouble in May, for some reason).

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Enter Tommy Hunter, a converted starter who is enjoying a 2.63 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in his first full season as a reliever. The "throw-in" in the Chris Davis trade with the Rangers, Hunter got the save for the Orioles on Wednesday, ahead of deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez.

If Johnson stays out of the saves mix for any amount of time, Hunter -- who saw his average fastball velocity rise from 91.6 mph last season to 95.8 this year -- will likely be the next in line. He comes with some risk (most notably, Johnson reclaiming his job), but is worth a gamble in AL-only formats and Roto leagues where a team is badly in need of saves.

Joel Peralta has taken the lead in holds

With Mark Melancon now closing games for the Pirates, his lead in the holds category was bound to disappear; Melancon is now tied for third in the majors with 26 holds. Your new leader is Tampa Bay reliever Joel Peralta, with 31. David Robertson is in second with 30.

Peralta and Robertson's hold totals actually have some significance -- the single-season leader in holds is Luke Gregerson, with 40. Peralta and Robertson both play for teams that are winning, meaning that, with a very good month, they could challenge the record. It's not likely -- for as good as the Yankees have been lately, Robertson has just six holds so far this month, and only two pitchers have double-digit holds in any month this season (Jesse Crain and Peralta, both in May) -- but it might be a fun category to keep an eye on as the season winds down.

Your hold leaders for August are...

Tyler Clippard, Nationals, 7 holds
Yoervis Medina, Mariners, 7
Joe Smith, Indians, 7
Ronald Belisario, Dodgers, 6
Matt Belisle, Rockies, 6
J.J. Hoover, Reds, 6
David Robertson, Yankees, 6
Jared Burton, Twins, 5
David Carpenter, Braves, 5
Tim Collins, Royals, 5
Charlie Furbush, Mariners, 5

Strikeout Kings

While the list of August leaders in K/9 boasts many familiar names, there are a few that may catch the attention of Roto owners looking to lower WHIP and ERA while keeping Ks up. Or even for the owner in a Categories league where K/9 is a category.

August leaders, K/9 (min. 5 IP)

Francisco Rodriguez, Orioles, 16.43 K/9
Kenley Jansen, Dodgers, 15.43
Danny Farquhar, Mariners, 14.46
Aroldis Chapman, Reds 14.40
Rich Hill, Indians 14.40
Charlie Leesman, White Sox, 14.40
Grant Balfour, Athletics 13.50
Mike Gonzalez, Brewers, 13.50
David Carpenter, Braves, 13.50
Craig Kimbrel, Braves, 13.09

Top of the SPARP heap

For those of you new to Bullpen Report, SPARP is an acronym for "Starting Pitcher As a Relief Pitcher" -- one of those Kris Medlen types who can be plugged into the RP slot in standard H2H formats to take advantage of the points windfall from starters. Over the last 21 days, there have been some interesting SPARP performers in the Fantasy game. The top SPARPs in that span:

Alex Wood, Braves, 79.5 Points in the last 21 days
Andrew Albers, Twins, 73.5
Kris Medlen, Braves, 69.5
Bruce Chen, Royals, 65.6
Tyson Ross, Padres, 63.5
Joe Kelly, Cardinals, 62.5
Hisashi Iwakuma, Mariners, 60.5
Andre Rienzo, White Sox, 52.5
Tony Cingrani, Reds, 52
Andrew Cashner, Padres, 46.5

I know it's the easy way out, but Iwakuma is probably the most attractive of this group, followed by Wood, who still has plenty of innings left on his arm this season. Medlen is 3 1/3 innings away from equaling his total from last year (which was also a career-high) and hasn't started a game since Aug. 13. He also averaged seven hits per game over his last eight starts. Cingrani has only thrown 129 innings so far this season, which is still below last year's total of 146.

Rienzo is probably the most intriguing of the group. While he doesn't have these blow-you-away minor league numbers, he had been good the last four seasons, and carried a 9.7 K/9 over 543 2/3 minor league innings. Before his call-up, he went on a nice run of games, lowering his WHIP and ERA. And through his first five major league starts, Rienzo has a 3.56 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. It shouldn't cause anyone to run out and add him, but Rienzo could be a shrewd add in a deeper league for his two-start week.

One last thing ...

With Steve Delabar on the DL, I went ahead and grabbed Brett Cecil in a couple AL-only leagues where I could use saves. Cecil, like Tommy Hunter, has found a new life in relief, and after a rocky July has come back around to his early-season self in August, with a 2.57 ERA and 10 strikeouts in seven innings.

Couple this with Casey Janssen's 7.94 ERA in August (and 5.40 ERA dating back to the start of July), and you have a very speculative play on late-season saves, should Janssen need to be rested and Delabar stays on the DL.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

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Player News
Orioles' Chris Davis homers twice, drives in five in 7-3 win Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:32 pm ET) Right fielder Chris Davis gave the Orioles all the offense they would need in the 7-3 win over the Braves on Tuesday. Davis launched a three-run home run in the bottom of the first, and followed that up with a two-run blast in the second.

Davis would finish the game 2 for 4 with five RBI and two runs scored. The five RBI represent a season-high for Davis, who is batting .316 with five home runs and 12 RBI over his past 10 games.


Red Sox's Pablo Sandoval ends power outage with two-run HR
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:29 pm ET) Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval went deep for his eighth home run of the season on Tuesday. He nailed a two-run shot in the second inning, but it wasn't enough as the White Sox downed the Red Sox 9-4.

Sandoval, who went 2 for 4 in the game Tuesday, is batting a rather pedestrian .263 over his past 10 ballgames. The home run broke a string of 22 consecutive games without a longball, his longest such streak of the season.


White Sox's Carlos Sanchez pushes hitting streak to 11 games
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:25 pm ET) White Sox rookie infielder Carlos Sanchez increased his current hitting streak to 11 games with a 1 for 3 effort in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Red Sox. Sanchez did not start the game, but he was used as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. He hit a two-out double in the ninth inning.

Over the course of the hitting streak, Sanchez is batting .414 (17 for 41) with two home runs and two RBI. 


White Sox LF Melky Cabrera stays hot with four-hit night Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:22 pm ET) White Sox left fielder Melky Cabrera went 4 for 5 in the 9-4 win over the Red Sox on Tuesday night. Cabrera hit two doubles and a triple, falling a home run shy of the cycle. He scored a run and drove in a run, giving him 47 RBI on the season.

Cabrera is on fire right now, hitting safely in 10 of his last 11 games. He's batting .429 with two home runs, nine doubles and 13 RBI over his past 10 games.


White Sox C Geovany Soto perfect at the plate on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:18 pm ET) White Sox catcher Geovany Soto reached base safely in all five plate-appearances in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Red Sox. The veteran backstop went 2 for 2 with three RBI, two runs scored and three walks in the game. 

Soto ripped a two-run double as part of a five-run first inning. He later chipped in a solo home run in the seventh. It was his seventh big fly of the season. 

Soto has been a productive player this season, despite getting partial playing time. Over his last 10 games--five starts--Soto is batting .375 with three home runs and five RBI.


White Sox 1B Jose Abreu belts 16th home run in win Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:10 pm ET) White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu had a big night at the plate in Tuesday's 9-4 win over the Red Sox. Abreu went 3 for 5 with a home run, a double, three RBI and two runs scored. 

Abreu launched a two-run home run, his 16th longball of the season, in the sixth inning to put Chicago up by five. The play was originally ruled a catch, but Red Sox center fielder Mookie Betts tumbled over the short right-field wall, dropping the ball in the bullpen. After a review, the call was overturned, and Abreu was awarded the home run.

Abreu also supplied an RBI double in the eighth inning. He is hitting .341 with two home runs and 10 RBI over his past 10 games. 


Marlins 3B Martin Prado reaches base four times on Tuesday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:05 pm ET) Marlins third baseman Martin Prado had himself a perfect night at the plate in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Nationals. Prado went 3 for 3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored in the game.

All three hits were singles for Prado, who is batting .333 in 11 games since returning from the disabled list on July 17.


Astros' Brad Peacock likely done for the season
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(11:05 pm ET) Astros pitcher Brad Peacock is likely done for the year, general manager Jeff Luhnow said on Tuesday. 

"Peacock we're still waiting," Luhnow said, per the Houston Chronicle. "I'm not optimistic he's going to make it back any time soon and we still don't know what the right course of action is. There's a couple different doctors working on it. There's another doctor appointment coming up. We'll have to figure out what the best path is for him, but unfortunately it looks like potentially a lost year for him."

Peacock has made one appearance this year. He's suffering from a left intercostal strain. 


Marlins 2B Dee Gordon goes 2 for 3 in return from DL
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(11:03 pm ET) Fresh off of the disabled list, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon went right back to making an impact on the basepaths in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Nationals. Gordon went 2 for 3 with a triple and a sacrifice bunt.

He also scored a run and continues to lead the league in hits with 124, despite missing more than two weeks with a thumb injury. Gordon is batting .294 over his past nine games.


Red-hot Joey Votto launches three-run home run in Reds' win
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(10:58 pm ET) Reds first baseman Joey Votto provided the only significant offense of the game in Tuesday's 4-0 win over the Cardinals. Votto launched a three-run home run in the sixth inning off Jaime Garcia to break a scoreless tie.

Votto reached base safely in all four plate-appearances on Tuesday, going 3 for 3 with a walk. He drove in three runs and scored two, recording his 19th home run and his 19th double of the season. 

Votto has been on fire at the plate recently, batting a ridiculous .595 with three homers and eight RBI over his past 11 games. Perhaps just as impressive is the fact that he has struck out just once--compared to 12 walks--in those 11 contests.


 
 
 
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